Category Archives: Beauty

Dove’s “Real Beauty” campaign and the need to acknowledge a harmful beauty culture

I’ve watched the Dove “Real Beauty” campaign with mixed feelings over the last couple of years.

On the one hand, it’s a counterpoint to intense cultural pressures to be thinner and prettier. Women I know have said it’s a relief to see a mainstream voice that praises women, instead of undermining them.

But there’s something troubling about the whole thing: at its core the “Real Beauty” campaign isn’t about redefining beauty, it’s about slightly pushing the envelope on the current definition.

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A note to men on righting the culture ship that forces unrealistic notions of female beauty

Note: Although it didn’t start out that way this post is sort of my supplement  to today’s Beauty of a Woman Blogfest II. Please take a moment to hop over and look at some amazing writing by a diverse and passionate group of women.

I was in a relationship a while back with a woman who had an eating disorder. Because her identity was bound up in cultural notions of what a woman is supposed to be, a big part of its formation came from being thin or physically fit/healthy. Although I did my best to be supportive I found the experience maddening, which gave me a small window into the paradoxes women regularly face.

Well intentioned men (and I’ve been guilty of this in the past) often use phrases like “real beauty is more than skin deep” (I’ve never used that cliche, thankfully) or “stick thin models in magazines aren’t attractive, real women are” or “I’m attracted to healthy women, not women who are just thin.”

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